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First chance at H1N1 vaccine for general public packs Auburn fairgrounds

Drive-through creates wait but people say it was worth it; New clinic in Auburn Tuesday; More clinics on the way in other Placer County locations in new year.
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The line was long. The wait was more than 1½ hours. But with H1N1 concerns in the air and swine flu vaccinations available for the general public in Auburn for the first time, Friday’s drive-through clinic at the Gold Country Fairgrounds was worth the wait for many. In all, some 600 vehicles with one or more people in each one slowly moved through the serpentine line at the fairgrounds parking lot to outside stations set up for vaccinations. A total of 740 people were vaccinated, Dr. Mark Starr of Placer County Health & Human Services said. Meadow Vista’s Paul Balnys said that, in the end, it would be worth the wait – although he felt the process could have been speeded up. Balnys, 62, said he wasn’t initially going to get the H1N1 vaccination. He’d already been inoculated for other flu strains earlier this fall. “But I’m going on a cruise and will be among a lot of people,” he said. “Otherwise, I don’t think it is necessary for my age and situation.” Richard Quintana said he had been in line for about 1½ hours. “I hope it’s worth it,” said the Roseville resident. “I just don’t want to get sick.” Quintana said that his only beef was that it seemed the event could have been better organized. “I went to Sacramento County for a drive-through flu shot in November and they seemed to be more organized – but they also were in a larger location,” Quintana said. “There, we were able to go in and park, shut off our engines, and we were given forms early on.” In Auburn, the line kept moving slowly forward before vaccinations were dispensed in front of the Sutter Building. Mike Romero, program supervisor with the county’s Department of Health & Human Services, said that about 600 vehicles – many with more than one person inside – were expected to move through the line during the four-hour clinic. With 1,500 vaccination doses available, the clinic was expecting supply to meet demand, he said. In all, the county has received 34,000 doses so far. It completed this year’s school vaccinations on Wednesday, with a clinic at Placer High School. A total of 16,000 Placer County students have been vaccinated. Auburn Police and the Auburn Fire Department provided logistical support for the event, working with county health officials. Auburn Police Capt. John Ruffcorn said traffic controls at Auburn Folsom Road provided pre-screening help. At the event’s 9 a.m. start, probably 100 vehicles were already waiting he said. With the threat of vehicles spilling out onto busy Auburn Folsom Road at the noon hour, police put up barriers and started preventing motorists from trying to enter along Fair Lane at about noon – an hour earlier than planned. Afterward, the county decided to hold another clinic for the Auburn area on Tuesday, this time at the Community Development Resource Agency in North Auburn. Starr said it will be a walk-in clinic and waits should be much less that Friday’s. Roseville’s walk-in clinic last week vaccinated 1,500 people and the average wait was about 45 minutes, he said. More clinics are planned in the new year, Romero said. -------------------------- New H1N1 clinic in Auburn When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday Where: Community Development Resource Agency, 3091 County Center Drive, North Auburn Cost: No cost for the vaccinations, open to the general public